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Album Review

Released in late 2000, Encore Echoes is a reissue of the Rooks legendary and long out-of-print eponymous debut, with the Double Dose of Pop and Chimes EPs added, plus one more bonus track entitled "Christmas." Essentially, Not Lame records packaged all available material not available on A Wishing Well into one easy-to-find release. Listening to the music here, it's not hard to tell why the Rooks became one of the most revered — but also most obscure — pop bands of the 1990s. The tracks are lovingly crafted with minute detail, and often feature unusual flute, French horn, or string flourishes. The ringing guitars equally recall 1980s jangle pop like early R.E.M. and Let's Active as they do 1960s psychedelic pop. It's also not hard to see why the mainstream didn't bite: the Rooks can't be tied to a genre easily, and even though they're often considered power pop, their cerebral lyrics and unorthodox arrangements make these songs somewhat inaccessible. These songs are incessantly catchy little treasures, but they often take multiple listens to truly sink in. This isn't a bad thing at all — many of the best albums are like this — but it certainly makes for an album of music destined for cult popularity. Those with a little patience and a desire to hear charmingly adventurous pop music can't go wrong here.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

From the Chicago suburbs, the Rooks put out a rare garage rock 45 on Mercury in 1966, "A Girl Like You"/"Empty Heart," the A-side being an original number, the flip a cover of an early Rolling Stones song. Like some other Chicago-area groups (the Shadows of Knight being the most famous), the Rooks were heavily influenced by the bluesiest British Invasion bands, and the approaches of the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Them are very...
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